Flames help 11-year-old blind girl watch hockey for first time

11-year-old Flames fan Olivia Lettich (NHL.com)
11-year-old Flames fan Olivia Lettich (NHL.com)

The Calgary Flames have been one of the best teams in the league of late, reeling off seven straight wins and jumping right into the thick of the playoff race in the Pacific Division.

Even more impressive than Calgary’s results on the ice, however, is its charitable initiatives off it.

Their latest goodwill gesture came on Sunday afternoon, when the Flames gave 11-year-old Olivia Lettich the experience of a lifetime.

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Lettich was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer when she was just four months old. After undergoing nine rounds of chemothereapy and 50 radiation treatments, Lettich lost her right eye at age two and was left with only peripheral vision in her left eye, effectively making her legally blind.

But thanks to the Flames and the wonders of technology, Lettich was able to watch her favourite team play for the first time.

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The Grade 5 student was given an electronic headset from Toronto company eSight that enables the legally blind to see by beaming real-time images into their peripheral vision.

The Flames made a life-altering experience even more special by hosting Lettich’s family at Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Islanders, inviting her to sit on the bench for warm-ups and stand on the red carpet for the singing of the national anthems.

She also got the chance to meet Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano in the dressing room after the game.

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Lettich had been to a game before to experience the atmosphere, but couldn’t see anything. This is how she described her first hockey-viewing experience

From Eric Francis of the Calgary Herald:

“I was able to see the shots and the players’ numbers and it was fast,” said Olivia, so thankful for the gift of sight so many take for granted.

“It’s super important because everyone else tells me what they see and sometimes I wish I could see it. These help a lot.”

“I cried in my bed I was so happy. I was just so happy. It changed my life.”

This is just the latest good deed done by the Flames organization. In late January, the Flames brightened another young fan’s day by signing him to a one-day contract and giving him the full pro experience. They also did a lot of work in wake of the Fort McMurray fires last year, including giving one fan a special birthday surprise.

Between the team’s on-ice success and their off-ice generosity, it’s a good time to be a fan of the Calgary Flames.